Monday 10 June 2013

Beating up the wrong guy

Despite its inclusion on his seismic Hunky Dory two years earlier, David Bowie's Life on Mars was released as a single 40 years ago this month on RCA Victor.

It would have set you back the princely sum of 40p if you'd bought it from your local record emporium; however, the chances are that the version most of us owned at that time wasn't even sung by The Dame. No, I've got a sneaking feeling your mum, whilst shopping in Woolies, would probably have snaffled the Top of the Pops version on the budget Hallmark label (think Poundshop meets Stiff) by some chancer called Tony Rivers. As a dreaded soundalike we'd have denied it thrice before the cock crowed, of course, but deep down we knew the boy Rivers had made a decent fist of it; he'd even got the ringing 'phone at the end.


  1. Yep, Mr. Rivers had a good stab at this. I didn't have this version because I was a 'Hot Hits' person, myself. 77p from our local post office.

  2. Is Pal Rivers the chap who did Penny Lane, widely believed to be Bowie for several decades..

    And don't forget you can grab Word-bird Hannah's take on Life on Mars for our recent Bowie special Podrophenia.

    It's officially Brixton Dave approved you know

  3. SB: Good call - same dogwash cleaner to use the parlance

    M: Probably. I know I'm pushing at an open door here, but Bowie covers don't come much better than this

  4. When I was a kid I would beg my parents for the money to buy TOTP (or Hot Hits) LP's, but Dad would have none of it, insisting I spend my pocket money on one single by an original artist, rather than an album full of covers - admirable, but I can't help feeling that, as a consequence, I've missed out on a whole nether world of peculiar versions of much loved songs.

    (Fave Bowie cover - 'Drive-In Saturday' by Morrissey.)

  5. Tony Rivers lead a group called the Castaways and then Harmony Grass. He was a bit long in the tooth and down on his luck by the time he was doing knock-off Top Pops.

    I did used to treasure my Sandy & The Strawbs LP on Hallmark so they weren't all bad.

  6. My sister and I bought one of those albums at our local Woolies not realizing it wasn't the original artists. Looking for a single to buy each with our Xmas-present record tokens we thought we were getting a bargain. All those records for the price of two singles!